Najam Sethi subject of exchange between author and critic
WASHINGTON: Daily Times editor Najam Sethi is the subject of an interesting exchange between the French author of a controversial and largely discredited book on Daniel Pearl’s murder and the respected British journalist and author William Dalrymple.
Benard-Henri Levy, whose book on the murder of Daniel Pearl was savagely lampooned in a review article by British author William Darlymple in the ‘New York Review of Books’ on December 4, responded to the criticism in a long letter to the journal in its February 12 issue by asserting, among other things, that Pakistan’s “military-mullah complex” was implicated in the kidnapping of journalists such as Najam Sethi, Hussain Haqqani, Ghulam Hasnain and Daniel Pearl.
In a stinging response, Darlymple writes, “Bernard-Henri Levy’s reply to my review exhibits exactly the same mix of errors, prejudice and lack of precision that so flaws his book. To give just on especially glaring example, in his book, BHL (Bernard-Henri Levy) argues that Hussain Haqqani and Najam Sethi were “kidnapped in Pakistan by ISI agents suspected of being backed by Al Qaeda”. Here he makes a different claim, that they were victims of “Pakistan’s military-mullah complex”. In actual fact, as Najam Sethi has personally confirmed to me, he and Hussain were kidnapped neither by Al Qaeda, nor by the ISI, nor by the military, nor by the mullahs, but instead by the regular Punjab police acting on the orders of Pakistan’s last democratic Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the ISI actually intervened in the case of Mr Sethi to have him released, leaving Mr Sethi in the odd position, as he told the BBC at the time, in which “the good guys – a democratically elected prime minister – had had me arrested and wanted me court martialled by the khakis, which the bad guys – the ISI and the army – politely refused to do”. —Khalid Hasan